Leaders from both sides of Kashmir to talk Heart to Heart
26 April 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi: In an effort to build new bridges of communication across the divided parts of Kashmir, a two-day Heart to Heart conference begins here Friday that will be attended by leaders from across the Line of Control.A 20-member delegation from Pakistan, led by former prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir Sardar Abdul Qayyoom Khan, landed in Delhi Monday to attend the conference.Briefing reporters, Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party chairman Bhim Singh said here that the aim of bringing together the leadership from the divided parts of Kashmir under the same roof was 'to bridge the gap and hold free and frank discussions about the resolution of the Kashmir issue'.'The purpose of the conference is to ensure heart-to-heart talks among the leadership from both sides of Kashmir and build new bridges of communication among the people who have suffered because of violence,' said Singh, who is convenor of the conference.Such endeavours would help strengthen the India-Pakistan peace process, he said. However, on April 13 the conference received an early setback when Barrister Sultan Mahmood, former prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, refused to attend, saying it was not in the interest of the Kashmiri people. 'Instead of participating in conferences, efforts are needed to foil conspiracies against the division of Kashmir,' Mahmood had said.He had severely criticised Qayyoom Khan for planning to attend the conference, terming it a 'betrayal of the sacrifices of Kashmiri people'. Separatists and mainstream politicians from Jammu and Kashmir have also been invited. This is the second conference of its type since 2005.The first meeting was held in New Delhi in September 2005, which concluded with the members roundly condemning violence. The 2005 conference had also recommended rehabilitation of the displaced people in Jammu and Kashmir.